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DeJongh, Francis to Seek Second Term

Gov. John deJongh Jr. announcing that he and Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis will seek a second term.Cheers and chants of "four more years" and "together for tomorrow" filled Villa Morales restaurant on St. Croix Wednesday evening when Gov. John deJongh Jr. and Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis formally announced they are running for a second term.
Cars filled the lot and lined both sides of the road all the way to Queen Mary Highway as more than 500 supporters and well-wishers packed the restaurant, its bar, courtyard and some large tents set up for the evening.
The air was sweltering in the packed dining room while prominent deJongh supporters took to the podium to talk about why they supported the incumbent governor and what they felt were the administration’s accomplishments.
"The first thing Gov. deJongh did for St. Croix was find $600,000 for drainage in White Lady," said Frederiksted resident and civic activist George Flores. "The second job he took on was the Christiansted Bypass," Flores said, recounting how the project sat on the back burner for 20 years, but now is nearing completion of the second of three phases of construction.
Janet Brow, founder of the successful new Parent University seminar series, spoke of what she saw as solid improvement in public education.
"Under this administration, the number of teachers certified as highly qualified has increased by 50 percent," Brow said. "Our public high schools are fully accredited, and the percentage of students scoring at or above grade level has gone up," she said.
Keith Richards, an elected member of the V.I. Board of Education, emphasized deJongh’s experience, connections and good relations with federal officials.
"We need a governor who has built relations with the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and President Barak Obama," Richards said. "All three are controlled by democrats now, which is important," said Richards.
While within the grounds of the restaurant many hundreds of Virgin Islanders shouted with enthusiasm, across the street Senate candidate Michael Springer, constitutional convention delegate Mary Moorhead and about a dozen other adults and several small children stood across the streets holding anti-deJongh signs and playing political calypso songs on a large stereo system.
Some of the protesters opposed the deJongh/Francis administration since before the two were elected. Lizette Santos, however, said she voted for deJongh but was not happy with the results. She lost her brother Hernan "Puchy" Santos to gun violence earlier this year and she held a sign saying her brother might have lived if the Frederiksted Clinic had been fixed up and reopened, or if an ambulance was posted in Frederiksted as once was the case.
"It’s been four years and nothing has changed," she said. "I feel he is helping the rich people, not the small people who need the help; not the community at large."
When deJongh took to the stage, he recapped some of the same points mentioned by his supporters; emphasizing the importance of early childhood education and highlighting the accreditation of all of the territory’s public high schools. He also pointed to what he sees as steps forward for the territory’s economy.
"Instead of excuses we produced ideas," deJongh said, citing the Diageo and Cruzan Rum agreements. Those deals "will bring $200 million a year into our treasury for the next 30 years," he said. Those agreements have already helped, by providing the future revenue stream to secure bond revenues to forge a bridge across the current budget crisis, he said.
Regarding the steadily increasing epidemic of gun violence and murder in the territory, deJongh said many years of neglect and decay in the education system and society have brought the situation about, and it will take a firm resolve, not just on the part of the police and government, but on the part of parents, friends and the entire community.
"Everyone must rise up against this," he said, urging people to give the police the support and the information they need to catch criminals.
Once all the speeches were done, deJongh and Francis mingled with the crowd, answering questions and their supporters began working their way to their cars and slowly snaking down the packed road toward their homes.

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